SMITHERS, W.Va. — Valley Fayette has made it to the Class A baseball state tournament three years in-a-row – but the Greyhounds have yet to win a game once getting there.
A season ago, Valley lost in the semifinals 6-5 to eventual champion Charleston Catholic – the Greyhounds scored two runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game, only to watch the Irish win in the bottom of the inning.
“We kind of expected to make that run,” said head coach Joe Craffey. “We always want to go a little bit further, but we had a good group of seniors last year who did a lot of good things for us.
“It ended one game earlier than what we wanted, but when you get stuck playing a team with the caliber of Charleston Catholic with the senior leadership they had, we knew we would be in for a tough game,” he continued. “I thought we played about as well as we could have – we just came up one play short.”
Valley lost five seniors from that 2013 team, including first team all-state selection Arik McGinnis.
“This year, I think we’re missing those guys,” Craffey said. “We have some guys back in Druw Bowen, who is a sophomore and was second team all-state last year as a freshman. Joe Eckert is a four year player for us who has done a real good job. A kid who was on the all-tournament team last year is John Riddle – we had to move him behind the plate this year and he’s done well so far.”
Also at the core of this year’s Valley team is senior Raeshawn Breckenridge.
“He’s just an all-around athlete – he was quarterback of the football team that went to the playoffs and was probably one of the leading scorers of the basketball team,” Craffey said. “He’s had a good run in multiple sports.”
No. 2 Valley jumped out to a 6-1 start on the year, eclipsing the 10-run mark in four of those games.
“To be honest, those scores really aren’t indicative of how we’ve played,” Craffey said. “We haven’t played well this year I haven’t thought. We’ve scored some runs and won some games, but as a whole, we haven’t put all three facets of the game together. We just have to get to the point to where we can put them all together.”
That one early loss for Valley came to regional challenger Man, 7-1.
“Man was good and we knew they were going to be good,” Craffey said. “We probably didn’t show a pitcher that we would show if we made it to regional play – and neither did they. It was a pretty even game through five innings. When they got guys on, they manufactured runs – we didn’t that day.”
In a showdown with Charleston Catholic earlier in the week, the Greyhounds committed six errors in a 12-3 loss to the Irish. Catholic erupted for six runs in the fifth inning to pull away. Valley then on Thursday lost to Man for a second time, 11-6.
Ultimately, this year’s group for Craffey still has a ways to go to make it to a fourth consecutive state tournament in June.
“There have been a couple of years when we’ve been able to get there on pitching – and then there was another year where we were able to get there on hitting,” Craffey said. “The last couple of years, our pitching is what has gotten us there. We have two or three kids that we feel pretty confident with on the mound – we just have to play some defense. We can’t expect our pitchers to strike everybody out.”
2014 Baseball Schedule
|1||03/24/14 05:00PM||H||CROSS LANES CHRISTIAN||11||–||8||W|
|2||03/26/14 05:00PM||H||MIDLAND TRAIL||18||–||0||W|
|3||03/28/14 05:00PM||H||NICHOLAS COUNTY||1||–||0||W|
|4||04/02/14 05:00PM||H||MEADOW BRIDGE||12||–||2||W|
|8||04/10/14 05:00PM||A||CROSS LANES CHRISTIAN||11||–||9||L|
|10||04/14/14 04:00PM||H||TUG VALLEY||–|
|12||04/16/14 06:00PM||A||CHARLESTON CATHOLIC||12||–||3||L|
|14||04/21/14 05:00PM||A||MIDLAND TRAIL||–|
|16||04/23/14 05:00PM||A||NICHOLAS COUNTY||–|
|19||04/26/14 01:30PM||A||TUG VALLEY||–|
|22||04/30/14 05:00PM||A||MEADOW BRIDGE||–|
|23||05/01/14 05:30PM||H||CHARLESTON CATHOLIC||–|
|24||05/06/14 05:00PM||A||GREATER BECKLEY CHRISTIAN||–|
|26||05/08/14 05:00PM||A||SUMMERS COUNTY||–|
|wins: 6 lost: 4 ties: 0|